Sunday, December 06, 2009

How it Went

Can I just say that if there were such a thing as the Sleep Olympics, I'd be a strong contender for the gold medal. I'm a champ!

So in the previous episode I arrived a little late to what had turned out to be our last work dinner with my former boss. The Princess was alone at a table reading a newspaper. The new math teacher arrived shortly after. (You might recall the Math Teacher Saga.) "Sol" (his nickname) stepped in to cover for the run-away. He's a church friend of The Princess and a genuine good fellow. He ended up staying on. Good. Soon after, my boss arrived with a friend if his and dinner commenced.

It went alright, pretty much. I suppose. I ended up being fairly angry at myself. What I really felt like doing was throwing a fit: wiping clear the low table covered with dishes of banchan, bottles, cutlery and cups. I wanted to overturn the tables and kick everything around the restaurant, screaming that I was uppppset and I didn't want my boss to leave. What I really wanted to do was to throw an absolute tantrum. What I did instead was make nicey-nice small talk with The Princess and Sol.

My co-worker showed up with her boyfriend almost an hour late and stayed for a whole 15 minutes. That really ticked me off and I wanted to ask her wtf was up with that. Instead, I tried to smooth the tension. The Princess's whole demeanor changed when my co-worker sat next to her. She stiffened and became non-verbal, not even once looking in the co-worker's direction to greet her or her boyfriend, who had taken over the grill duties for my boss and his friend. I spoke to alternately to the Princess and then to my co-worker, never involving them in the same conversation. I wanted to lunge across the table and snack the Princess for being so rude. But what I would have really liked to do was to somehow divide myself in two, leave my body, and punch me in the face for being so people-pleasy. I might as well have just added to the super awkwardness of the evening by sulking silently, or bawling quietly - which is what I probably would have done if my boss had spoken to me with The Princess's help, but he didn't. And, I was thankful for that because I would have lost my shit. Instead, The Princess visibly de-tensed when the co-worker left with her man. Just after, my boss got sloshed on soju and started speaking to the Princess who then re-tensed, staring down at the table only to occasionally nod to indicate she was listening. I stepped outside and then to the bathroom and then back outside to give them some privacy. My boss was confessing that he'd sold the school to spite her. It was all for revenge.

There was no "ee-cha." We would not drink beers together at a hof. There would be no singing at the karaoke. We all bowed and said our good-byes and it was barely eight o'clock. I walked a block up the street with The Princess and Sol, listening to her complain that she hated talking to anyone who was drunk. I wondered if that judgey attitude had prevented her from actually hearing what my boss had to say, but honestly I didn't really care. We said our goodbyes and I hoped they didn't notice that my voice cracked with emotion. I turned around to walk away just in time, as I finally broke down and cried. I was really going to miss my boss.

He wasn't very confident in his English ability with good reason. However, I could always understand him. We had jeong ( 정, hanja: 情.) Together, we'd saved Bella and her three puppies. (I'm sorry, I don't think I wrapped that story up properly, by the way. I will in the next couple days.) My boss had taken care of me. He introduced me to his family who spoiled me with the most delicious kimchi and wonderful fresh vegetables from the farm. And, I'd taken care of my boss, learning how to cook more Korean dishes and making sure he had a better dinner through the week than cups of instant ramen. I had wanted to work hard for him and to see him succeed. I'd signed on for another year here for him. I was so angry and hurt, I felt like he was abandoning me, and I was kind of jealous of how free he must have felt, not having to worry anymore about whether the school was going to do well or finally go belly up, and how he didn't have to deal with The Princess anymore.

So I walked up the street a lot farther than I had to, just letting myself cry. I didn't bother wiping the tears off my face and I didn't care what the people passing me must have thought. I tried to clear my head and stop worrying about what was going to happen Monday morning.


Diana E. said...

It's so hard to say goodbye to the people who are special. Even when we know we'll see them again, not seeing them on the regular basis we once did is tough...


Gwen said...

I think I've probably made this comment before, but you're a saint for putting up with all of this. I'm sorry your boss treated you this way after all you've done for him.

What's the atmosphere like in school now?